Keynote Nihal Saad Zaghloul
According to UN Women, national council for women and other government organizations 99% of women living in Egypt face a form of sexual harassment everyday, 60% of men admitted to harass women on a daily basis.
In June 2012 I witnessed a sexual assault by group of men to a friend of mine. I couldn’t help her. I was on the square too and I don’t know why they left me and took her.
My name is Nihal Saad Zaghloul and I am the co-founder of Imprint Foundation.
I wrote a blog post as a sort of my own way of dealing with what I went through not knowing how my blog post would spread. One of the people who reacted to my blog post was Abdelfattah. We organized a stand together on Tahrir square to protest and to show solidarity to all the women who have been assaulted or harassed in Egypt.
This stand was the beginning of a new era in our lives because together we started the Imprint movement. A movement that aims at creating volunteer communities all over Egypt that would reject violence and advocate for women’s rights.
We started doing patrols as a prevention means. We did our civic patrols in the metro and on the streets to help women enjoy public spaces as safely as possible. On the first day we launched this we were 6 people patrolling. By the end of the 3rd day we were 140 people. Our patrols continued through Eid (Islamic holiday), twice a year for 2 years. We were not allowed to continue due to security restrictions but did a door to door campaign instead.
After really diving into the topic of sexual violence we realized the need for an education campaign. Sexual violence happens because the lack of education, the lack of punishment and the media who views women as sex objects. We developed a curriculum that promotes women’s rights and deconstructs gender roles that gives men the power to control women.
After joining Women on the Frontline we spread across the country and give workshops in many universities: Minia, assuit, Cairo, Alexandria, zagazig, suez, minofiya. We are aiming to cover all universities in Egypt by the end of the 2017.
Our workshops also teaches those students how to campaign for women’s right to safety in their community. We trained more that 300 students and our university campaigns reached more than 4000 students.
The media played an important role in creating a public debate on sexual harassment. We did a comic and hung it in the metro. In the metro there is about 3 million people that goes through everyday so we calculated that at least 50,000 people saw our comic.
With the help of Women on the Frontline we filmed a series of videos that addresses the problem, show the main causes and offers solutions to end sexual harassment. You can watch those videos on our page. The videos reached about 24,000 viewers.
After our work and many other NGOs in 2014 Egypt has a sexual harassment law, a huge victory for all women in Egypt.
Imprint movement now is a foundation and has employees after we were operating only on volunteers. We are partners in projects with UN women, VAW unit in ministry of interior, VAW in Cairo university and the GIZ in Cairo.
Our story is a story of perseverance, a story of the power of words, but most importantly Imprint is a story about a couple of people who refused to stand down.